Hurrah for deco-punk ray guns: when imagination outstrips reality

When I was growing up, a ‘ray gun’ was a weapon that zapped somebody and turned them into a petrol attendant named Ray. OK, that joke’s actually from The Tick. That aside, ‘rays’ were a staple of deco-era sci-fi, especially Edward Elmer ‘Doc’ Smith’s space operettas, where ‘rays’ – meaning an undefined something that either … More Hurrah for deco-punk ray guns: when imagination outstrips reality

Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi

One of the things the Star Wars franchise isn’t particularly known for is the ‘science’ part of the science fiction calculation. I’m talking about everything from visible bolts of laser light that move at about 130 mph (ie: 0.00002 percent of light-speed) through to one-climate worlds, space ‘fighters’ that manoeuvre like First World War dogfighters, … More Science silliness with Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi

I have never completely understood the latest sci-fi fixation with ‘super powers’, where the main protagonist is just some ordinary person who just happens to be able to go invisible, or read minds, or teleport (but not all three). Inevitably this singular ability then becomes the ‘gimmick’ on which plots are hung. To which I … More Why super-powers should be all or nothing in sci-fi

The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets

Single climate worlds are all through the Star Wars universe – worlds that, inexplicably, have a single ecosystem – ice, desert or forest, usually. Yet they’re all habitable by humans. I can see where the idea comes from. Here on Earth we often travel from one climate to another. Islands, particularly, often have a single … More The silliness of Star Wars’ single-climate planets

I like Trek ‘the original series’ way better than Star Wars ‘Part IV’ because…

I like Trek ‘the original series’ way better than Star Wars ‘Part IV’ because Trek gave us Spock. That’s it, really. But let me explain some more. When Lucas developed Star Wars (by which I mean the original 1977 movie) he deliberately wrote a story that spoke to our deepest senses of mythic self –for … More I like Trek ‘the original series’ way better than Star Wars ‘Part IV’ because…